KLC grants build on leadership capacity of Kansas organizations

A guiding principle at the Kansas Leadership Center is that anyone has the ability to lead, no matter the time, location, or their role within an organization.

When it comes to the toughest challenges or biggest opportunities, they believe leadership is the answer. True leadership can occur when there are people in organizations who have the capacity to exercise leadership in tackling difficult challenges.

That’s why the Kansas Leadership Center (KLC) began its leadership transformation grants, which provide scholarships for civically-engaged Kansas organizations to participate in KLC’s three core leadership programs.

“The purpose of leadership transformation grants is to provide the leadership development resources necessary for organizations to experience transformation,” said Ed O’Malley, KLC president and CEO. “Each year, the Kansas Leadership Center awards more than 40 grants to organizations in Kansas that build the capacity of individuals, teams and managers with training, coaching and support. These grants affirm KLC’s mission to foster stronger, healthier and more prosperous communities throughout our state.”

In the five years KLC has offered this opportunity, it has trained more than 6,500 people with 193 grants, which range in value from $25,000 to $50,000 each. These grants represent KLC’s most significant yearly investment in Kansas organizations and communities.

The Kansas Health Foundation (KHF) created KLC in 2005 and provides core operating support. KLC transfers part of KHF’s investment into these communities via the leadership transformation grants program.

In 2019, 50 organizations were awarded leadership transformation grants. Among the grant recipients were the Kansas Neurological Institute (KNI) in Topeka and Greenbush – The Southeast Kansas Education Service Center, based in Girard.

KNI is one of two state-operated hospitals providing 24/7 care and support for people with intellectual disabilities. Forty of its nearly 430 employees will have participated in leadership training from KLC by the end of 2019.

These programs offer a framework where organizations share a common language and skill set, O’Malley said, which inspires increased engagement, a collective purpose, fresh insight and effective collaboration.

The first round of KNI employees recently attended KLC’s introductory course, “Your Leadership Edge,” and all come from different backgrounds and hold various positions, including a registered nurse, facilities and maintenance director, residential unit director, superintendent and staff who provide direct client care.

“In order to make progress as an organization, we need to facilitate our employees in developing leadership skills that will help take us into the future. We also need them to mentor and inspire their teams, subordinates, and peers in these same kinds of competencies,” said Keith Tatum, director of training and staff development at KNI. “Giving KNI staff the tools to correctly diagnose adaptive situations and create strategies for each potential scenario goes a long way towards ensuring our success.”

Tatum said when staff got back from the first training, they mentioned learning a great deal of information, and found real benefit from personal interactions with other attendees. Several staff members are also exploring how to apply their new KLC knowledge into their daily lives.

Kelly Peak, director of development and special projects at Greenbush, will also continue to debrief staff on what they’ve learned and how they can use KLC’s competencies and principles to further impact their organization.

Greenbush is an education service agency that offers programs with the belief that every learner, regardless of age or location, deserves access to innovative educational opportunities.

“Our goal (for KLC training) is to empower all of our team members to exercise leadership at any time and any place,” Peak said. “By learning new concepts and stretching beyond what we are most comfortable doing, we are beginning to see how different approaches help us make progress on what matters most, which is serving Kansas learners.”

Several team members have used online tools offered through KLC’s trainings and as a group will discuss how to apply and expand lessons learned to serve their mission.

Civically-engaged entities that would like to tackle big leadership challenges are encouraged to apply for leadership transformation grants by clicking here.

“We’re looking for partners willing to embrace our ideas to transform their organization through the engagement of staff, teams and senior leadership,” O’Malley said. “We encourage your organization to apply today.”

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NOTE: Photos by Jeff Tuttle.

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